Rev. Andrew Girling 1947-1974
The son of a vicar, Andrew Girling was brought up in Croydon, becoming a chorister at Canterbury Cathedral as a boy. It was there that his love of church music and worship began. On leaving the cathedral choir he was a pupil at St John’s School, Leatherhead prior to taking his theology degree at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. It was while he was a student in Cambridge that he and four friends from the College drove overland from Cambridge to Cape Town!
After university, he went to Wycliffe Hall, Oxford to train for the ministry and was ordained deacon in St Alban’s Cathedral in 1965. He went on to serve as a curate at Luton Parish Church, being mainly responsible for youth work and pastoral visiting. It was while he was at Luton that he met his wife Sue, who was Theatre Sister at Luton and Dunstable Hospital.
By 1968, Andrew had moved up to Hull, where he was Chaplain at the University, working with both students and staff. After seven years as chaplain at the university he felt the time was right to return to parish ministry. The Archbishop suggested St Edward’s to him, which led to a meeting with the churchwardens and the eventual invitation to join the church.
Curate, Geoffrey Mountain had held the fort since Rev. Molyneux’s retirement, and he would now be a great help to Andrew. Soon after arriving, Andrew introduced Parish Communion every Sunday except the first Sunday in the month when a Family Service was held.
The original organ from 1868 was in need of expensive repairs, so the decision was made to replace it with a new one. Several recitals were given once the new organ, built by organ manufacturers, Nigel Church, was installed. The first recital in September 1980 was by James Parsons (Assistant Director of Music, Oundle School) who claimed to have played on all Nigel Church organs to date and wanted to add this one to his list.
By 1985, St Leonard’s Hospice was opened in Dringhouses and Andrew was appointed as Chaplain and in the same year the Diocese approached him for St Edward’s to be used as a trial parish for the development of a lay ministry team. Andrew had always been keen to encourage lay ministry and the PCC soon gave its agreement for the scheme. A Local Ministry team of seven people would undertake two years’ training and were eventually commissioned to lead various aspects of parish ministry. Several years later some members of this team were ordained or became Lay Readers. It was in the summer of 1987 that our first female clergy member, Sheila Fletcher, joined us at St Edward’s.
By the late eighties, major festivals such as Christmas, Easter and Harvest had standing room only in the church. Long deliberations began on how to extend the building. The eventual design was only approved after heated debates on the PCC, with understandable reservations about the cost. The proposal was to extend the church on the south side and add meeting rooms, office space and toilet facilities, in order to help the church be effective in its future ministry.
The service of Thanksgiving and Rededication of the Church Extension, with Archbishop David Hope, on 8 July 1996, gave thanks for the realisation of a vision shared over many years. The completed scheme brought many practical benefits, but was intended to facilitate more effective ministry and service to the whole community of Dringhouses.
By the end of 1999, Andrew announced his departure for a new parish in February 2000. He said Dringhouses had been a marvellous place to live and a joy to be part of such a varied and dynamic community. He spoke of God’s faithfulness and the outstanding support from St Edward’s in his ministry. As he moved down to Thurlestone in Devon, he said “I know that the next vicar of Dringhouses will be richly blessed, as we have been.”